Obama's legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies' misdeeds

The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail -- it's remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton's administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice. Read the rest

Wells Fargo just hit with another massive fraud scandal, but thankfully Donald Trump owes them a lot of money

Wells Fargo didn't merely open 2,000,000 fraudulent accounts and bill its customers for them; it also tricked its customers into signing up for insurance policies, at mass-scale. Read the rest

Wells Fargo is successfully convincing judges that forged arbitration agreements are legally binding

When you sign up for a Wells Fargo account, you're required to sign an arbitration "agreement" giving up your right to sue the company, and requiring you to have your case heard by an arbitrator paid for by -- and dependent on -- Wells Fargo instead. Read the rest

Wells Fargo says that its customers gave up right to sue by having their signatures forged

Even though disgraced Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has left the building, his most outrageous legal theories live on: on Wednesday, the company filed a motion in a federal court in Utah seeking dismissal of a class action suit by the customers it defrauded -- the bank argues that since customers sign a binding arbitration "agreement" when they open new accounts, that the customers whose signatures were forged on fraudulent new accounts should be subject to this agreement and denied a day in court. Read the rest

Senate investigates Wells Fargo retaliations against whistleblowers

One after another, ex-Wells Fargo employees have come forward to reveal that when they blew the whistle of millions of frauds committed against the bank's customers, the bank's management fired them and blackballed them from the banking industry for life, by falsifying claims of wrongdoing on a semi-secret list of corrupt bankers that is consulted by the industry before they make new hires. Read the rest

Wells Fargo blackballed employees who refused to commit fraud, forcing them out of the industry forever

Earlier this month, Planet Money aired an interview with a Wells Fargo whistleblower who was fired for trying to alert the bank to the millions of criminal frauds being committed against its customers, and we learned that the whistleblower had been added to a confidential blacklist used by the finance industry, preventing her from ever getting work in the industry again. Read the rest

Better Business Bureau yanks Wells Fargo's accreditation

The scandal-haunted bank has been de-accredited by the Better Business Bureau, a punishment meted out to companies that violate the BBB Standards of Trust, which include "tell the truth," "build trust," "honor promises" and "embody integrity." (via Reddit) Read the rest

Wells Fargo's new CEO previously denied that the bank's sales culture had any problems

Yesterday, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf announced his "early retirement" from the scandal-haunted company, with the CEO seat being filled by former COO Tim Sloan. Read the rest

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf resigns

First he was flayed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, then Congress had a go, then everyone got to gnaw on the fact that he'd done some seriously criminal stuff, then it emerged that he'd been a party to the bank's frauds since at least 2008, then we learned that his $200B bonus would be subsidized by taxpayers, then we learned that he walked through one of the bank's notorious boiler rooms every day, then his board of directors clawed back a couple million. Read the rest

Wells Fargo whistleblower: once I complained, they started denying me bathroom breaks

Yesterday, I predicted that a lot of Wells Fargo whistleblowers were going to come forward, given how terribly Read the rest

Whistleblower docs: Wells Fargo was opening fake accounts in 2005

Dennis Hambek was a Wells Fargo branch manager. In 2005, he found Wells Fargo employees creating fake accounts in their customers' names (in order to meeting the company's punishing sales quotas and avoid being blackballed across the industry). He sent a certified letter about the practice in 2006 to Carrie Tolstedt -- the bank exec who oversaw the fraud and retired weeks ahead of the scandal with a $125,000,000 bonus -- and held onto the receipts. Read the rest

Wells Fargo whistleblower describes bank's culture of blackballing threats and coerced corruption

On the latest Planet Money podcast (MP3), a former San Francisco Wells Fargo banker describes the bullying and coercion she faced from senior management while working at the bank's head office, and how the bank forced her out when she blew the whistle on fraud and then blacklisted her with other banks, forcing her out of the sector altogether. Read the rest

The Wells Fargo fraud came to light because of union organizers

Though Wells Fargo had been pressuring its employees to commit fraud since 1998, firing those who couldn't make quota, as well as the whistleblowers who came forward to report the fraud, it wasn't until the Committee for Better Banks launched a unionization drive to organize retail banking workers against punitive sales quotas that the crimes came to light. Read the rest

Wells Fargo started demanding fraud of its employees in 1998; Illinois cuts Wells off from state business

Wells Fargo made a habit of firing employees who didn't make unrealistic sales targets, turning a blind eye to the fraud they had to commit in order to keep their jobs (and firing the whistleblowers who reported the fraud). Read the rest

Wells Fargo illegally repossessed 413 service members' cars

Besides stealing money from customers by creating fake accounts and then charging them fees, Wells Fargo is in trouble for repossessing 413 cars owned by US military service members. The bank did so without a court order, which violates federal law. From CNN:

The Justice Department said the illegal repossessions took place from 2008 to 2015. The first complaint came from an Army National Guardsman in North Carolina who said the bank seized his car while he was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

Wells Fargo then auctioned his car and tried to collect a balance of $10,000 from his family, the Justice Department said.

The bank will pay $10,000 to each of the affected service members, plus lost equity in the cars with interest, and repair their credit.

Read the rest

Watch Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf get raked over the coals by Congress

Here's two hours of Democratic and Republican congresspeople not taking any weaselly bullshit from disgraced Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

In September 2016, Wells Fargo was issued a combined total of $185 million in fines for creating over 1.5 million checking and savings accounts and 500,000 credit cards that its customers never authorized. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued $100 million in fines, the largest in the agency's five-year history, along with $50 million in fines from the City and County of Los Angeles, and $35 million in fines from the Office of Comptroller of the Currency. The scandal was caused by an incentive-compensation program for employees to create new accounts. It led to the firing of nearly 5,300 employees and $5 million being set aside for customer refunds on fees for accounts the customers never wanted.

Read the rest

State of California imposes 12-months' worth of sanctions on Wells Fargo

Following from Wells Fargo's 2,000,000-account fraud against its own customers -- part of a decade-old pattern -- the state of California has imposed sanctions on the bank, freezing it out of bond issues, brokerage business, and suspending all investment in Wells Fargo-issued securities. Read the rest

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